BRAND GROWTH


05.10.19

How to Name Like a Mother

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8 Strategic Considerations

By Laura DeGroot, Soulsight’s Mom with a Mission

As the Creative Strategy Director at Soulsight, I spend my 9-5 focused on how to build soulful brands that are set up for greatness. Whether it’s by uncovering the brand’s purpose, developing the brand’s name, or laying out its roadmap for growth, I’m always looking for opportunities to future-proof the brands we launch into the world.

Also as a mother of two, I find myself constantly drawing parallels between my approach as a strategist and as a mom. As a parent, I strive to build a strong, secure foundation from which my children can grow and thrive. This isn’t much different than building a strong foundation for a new brand. Similarly, I understand that the decisions I make as a parent can have life-long implications for my kids, just as the decisions we make as strategists, marketers and designers can have life-long ramifications for our brands.

Before my children were born, I found myself considering how the names my husband and I would choose for them had the potential to impact the way they were perceived by the world. As a strategist, the same responsibility applies when recommending a name for a new brand.

Looking back at all the baby naming articles I’ve read and the strategic brand name philosophies we at Soulsight follow, I found that when it comes to naming your baby, whether it’s your child or your brand, there’s some helpful considerations to keep in mind. And the key word here is “considerations.” At the end of the day you have your own intuitions, unique perspectives and gut feeling that needs to be acknowledged, listened to and heard. So whether you like to follow the rules or write your own, here are few to consider.

 

Consideration #1:

Name with Purpose

Most, if not all, parents have aspirations for their children before they’re even born. Hopes that they will become strong leaders, game-changing innovators, competitive athletes or creative artists. Selecting a name is one of the ways that parents articulate the aspirations they have for their children. For instance, take one of the most popular boys names from the past few years, Liam. Short for William, it means “helmet of will” and is symbolic of a strong-willed warrior and protector. For parents with aspirations of their child growing up to help others and fight for what’s right, it’s a great fit. When it comes to naming a new brand, the same logic applies. Ask yourself, what role do I want my brand to play in the world and in the lives of others? What do I want my brand to stand for and stand against. What do I want my brand to believe in and value.

Consideration #2:

Be Symbolic

While names like Apple, Blue Ivy and Dusty Rose may seem like a relatively new celebrity trend, metaphors have inspired names throughout time. Names like Leo and Lily are so engrained in our culture that it’s easy to forget that they are symbolic in nature. This is also a relevant naming strategy for brands. Think of how you want to feel after you drink an energy drink. Do you want to feel as unstoppable as a Monster or maybe a powerful as (Red)Bull? Next time you’re looking for a little naming inspiration, ask yourself, what are the brand’s key attributes that I want to convey? How do I want my people to feel after interacting with my brand? And what else shares these key characteristics?

 

Consideration #3:

Honor Your History

Whether passing down a family name or choosing one inspired by your cultural or ethnic background, these names forge an unbreakable bond between your past and present. When it comes to creating a brand name, consider one with roots. Whether named after a founder, creator, muse, or origin story, these names create a connection between where you’ve been and where you’re going. 

 

Consideration #4:

Consider a Place

There’s an undeniable cool-factor that comes with the name Brooklyn as well as a midwestern approachability that comes with the name Madison. These transportive names evoke a feeling, vibe and energy that’s associated with the cities they represent. Similarly, brands can borrow associations from literal places – think FIJI Water – as well as suggestive places – think Cape Line Sparkling Cocktails. So if you’re looking for a little naming inspiration, ask yourself, what kind of spirit do you want your brand to embody? And what’s a place that’s representative of that same vibe?

 

Consideration #5:

Be Easy to Read and Pronounce

Whether it’s your child’s substitute teacher going through attendance, or someone seeing your brand for the first time, you want people to be able to read and pronounce the name with ease. Just like you don’t want your child to have to constantly correct others, you don’t want to put your brand in a position where it has to correct potential consumers. 

 

Consideration #6:

Be Easy to Spell

Do you have a friend that’s always having to spell out their name for others? Do you think this is hurting their chances of being found on networks such as Instagram or LinkedIn? Could they be missing out on potential connections or opportunities because of it? At the end of the day, a name that is easy to spell is easy to search and easy to find. When it comes to a brand name, this doesn’t mean you’re limited to the boring, bland or basic either. Consider a composite or maybe even a fanciful name. As long as it’s spelled like it sounds, you’re on the right track.

 

Consideration #7:

Do Your Homework

Before falling in love with any name, make sure you put it through a few pressure tests. For parents, an easy one is the monogram test. Do the initials spell BAD, DUM or SAD? If these are associations you don’t want for your child, you may want to reconsider. Another easy test for names of any kind is to simply Google the name. Whether it’s a less than favorable celebrity or questionable Urban Dictionary reference, you may want to reconsider to avoid a potentially negative connotation. Also, just like parents often consider how the “mean kids” at the playground may use their child’s name to make a less than kind rhyme, consider if there’s any negative way to spin an otherwise positive name.

 

Consideration #8:

Provide Context

Many parents are choosing to keep their selected name a secret with the hopes of holding off the potential avalanche of subjective, and often unwanted, thoughts and opinions. While the feedback usually comes from a good place, it’s often rooted in one-off associations that aren’t relevant to the child or the child’s parents. “I don’t like the name Emma, because I knew a girl in high school that once…blah blah blah.” More parents are waiting until the child is born to share the baby’s name so people can be introduced to a person with a name versus a name in isolation. Being able to connect a name with a person or a brand beyond just the word alone creates valuable context. Similarly, when it comes to branding, consider bringing the name to life visually before sharing with others.

Naming your baby, whether it’s your child or your brand, is truly a labor of love. So whether you spend a day, weeks or months carefully considering the perfect name, embrace your unique opportunity to make a one-of-a-kind introduction with thoughtful consideration.

 

ABOUT US 

Soulsight is a Chicago-based iconic brand design agency. Our mission is to propel brands to unlimited success through strategic design that drives consistent relevancy. We are known for delivering inspiring, category-leading creative and insights-driven strategic guidance for some of the world's best-loved iconic, global brands. We're a team of 60 multi-disciplined, strategic creatives who believe in the power of consumer-centric, design-driven branding. We build Soulful brands through strategic design. We are Soulsight. 

 

 


04.30.19

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WHOSE BRAND IS IT ANYWAY? 

USING THE RULES OF IMPROV IN BRAND DEVELOPMENT

If you’ve ever been to an improv comedy show, you have probably had one of two thoughts: “These people perform on stage without knowing what is going to happen next? That must be terrifying!” or “That looks like serious fun!”  

If you have ever taken an improv class or performed improv comedy on stage, you know that both of these statements are true. 

But how in the world does performing seat-of-your-pants comedy relate to developing an engaging brand story? At their hearts, improv and brand development share a common goal: make a connection at all costs.     

Though completely spontaneous, there are rules for improvising that, when applied to your brand development strategy, will help you create authentic connections with your team, your client, and your audience through innovative strategies that you may not have discovered otherwise. So, what are the rules? 

 

RULE #1:

Take a two-part “Yes and” approach. 

In improv, there are no bad suggestions. You must accept anything your scene partner brings to the stage. If your partner says “Hello, welcome to my flower shop!” and you respond with “This isn’t a flower shop, it’s a dentist’s office!” then you have completely stopped any forward momentum and you’ve already lost your audience. You’ve also made your scene partner feel bad. When you say YES to your partner’s suggestion, you have not only supported your team member, but you’ve brought your audience along for the ride as well. When you add the AND to your yes, you’ve taken your partner’s idea and made it better by adding to it. 

Actor 1: “Hello, welcome to my flower shop!”

Actor 2: “Yes, and I’m here to pick up the man-eating Venus fly trap I ordered.”

Now we’ve got a scene that the audience is into. 

The rule of YES AND is imperative in the brainstorming stage of any brand development project.  This creates a supportive environment that allows anyone in the room to let go of the fear of having a bad idea so that they are able to push through to get to real innovation. An idea that may not seem so great at first can be “yes anded” by your team or may spark something in someone else that will eventually lead to the big idea.   

 

RULE #2:

Make statements, and don’t ask questions. 

Tina Fey said, “Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles. We’ve all worked with that person. That person is a drag.”

Asking questions to make your partners explain themselves or their ideas does not add to the scene, or to the brainstorm. It puts all the pressure on your teammate to come up with every detail. Most times, a negative question intended to “poke holes” can be reframed as a constructive statement, and this approach is much more effective in getting the desired results; an innovative, previously unseen idea that was discovered together. Basically, don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out problems – contribute.

 

RULE #3:

Remember, there are no mistakes, only opportunities. 

This rule holds true for every stage and every boardroom in the world. Within each “mistake” we can find an opportunity to turn it on its head and make it work for us in a brilliant way that we may not have ever thought of before. 

For example, in improv, an actor may start a scene by wiping down the counter at his flower shop. His scene partner enters and thinks he is waxing a car at a race track. Now, we must agree that we are at a race track, and the first actor must let go of his original idea or else the momentum of the scene comes to a halt. Who knows? We may end up in a combo flower shop/ drag racing operation opened by a florist who has a secret love for car racing. And now it’s interesting.

When it comes to brand development, this rule helps us let go of our egos to get to the best, most unique ideas for our clients and their audiences. It helps us to keep moving forward to innovate, rather than getting hung up on how we’ve always done things. 

 

BONUS LESSON:

Listen More.

When you are on stage, you must actively listen to your scene partners or you might miss a vital detail that could take your scene to the next level.

Actor 1: “Hello, welcome to my flower shop!”

Actor 2: “Yes, and I’m here to pick up the man-eating Venus fly trap I ordered.”

Actor 1: “Great! We just received a shipment of Easter Lilies this morning that I think you’ll love!”

Here, we can see that Actor 1 was not actively listening and was instead just waiting to speak.  He missed a delicious nugget about a man-eating plant. Now the scene is headed into a less exciting direction and the audience is confused. 

This translates easily to business meetings, where it can be difficult to stay engaged. According to Forbes, we only remember between 25% and 50% of what we hear. All the more reason why we must work to focus and observe carefully in order adapt appropriately and in real time.  

At the end of the day, improv and brand development are about taking risks and diving deep into our imaginations for unifying ideas we didn’t even know were in there. It allows us to feel safe in our pitches, because there are no right or wrong ideas, only opportunities to stretch your thinking. Through supportive experimentation in our brainstorming, we breed innovation because we’ve weeded out the fear of failure knowing that failure doesn’t exist. It is just another critical step towards your next game-changing idea.

ABOUT US 

Soulsight is a Chicago-based iconic brand design agency. Our mission is to propel brands to unlimited success through strategic design that drives consistent relevancy. We are known for delivering inspiring, category-leading creative and insights-driven strategic guidance for the some of the world's best-loved iconic, global brands. We're a team of 60 multi-disciplined, strategic creatives who believe in the power of consumer-centric, design-driven branding. We build Soulful brands through strategic design. We are Soulsight.


04.23.19

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Remarkable Beyond Par

What We Learned from Tiger Woods and Why His Comeback Matters to Your Brand (Whether You Like Him or Not)

April 14th, 2019 is a day that will live in our collective sports’ memories for a long time to come. It is, of course, the date of one of the most epic comebacks in sports history; the date that Tiger Woods won his fifth Masters title.  

Watching Tiger’s masterful (pun intended) performance unfold, alongside throngs of fans who rallied behind their golf god got us thinking about the power of brands; even more specifically, the power of Tiger’s brand, its ability to survive adversity, and to seemingly bounce back stronger than ever.  

It’s been 22 years since Tiger first set the sports world on fire, and 14 years since his last green jacket. Since then, he’s had quite a few personal struggles and countless injuries that had many counting both Tiger, and his high-performing brand that represents red-hot excellence, down and out. They were mistaken. 

At this year’s Masters performance, it was as if we were watching the Tiger we knew two decades ago. The man and the brand that fans fell in love with back then seemed to swell back to life before our very eyes, as if the scandals and injuries had never happened, to win over our hearts and minds once again. 

Millennials, who were just starting to find their own sports affinities when Tiger exploded on the scene, remain his biggest champions today. He single handedly made golf cool to them way back when and brought it to the forefront of their minds when they easily could’ve found their passion in the more conventional choices, like football, baseball, or soccer. Tiger elevated the sport of golf to a level of prominence it had never seen before and we are finding that his effect seems to be everlasting.   

But how does he do it? How does he manage to connect on such a deep, emotional level with so many fans that truly spread the gamut of age, race, gender, and beyond?  

Tiger Woods is remarkable. He is especially uncommon through his focus and his dedication. And with that, Tiger’s brand is remarkable.  

There are three key factors that make Tiger’s brand (and can help make your brand) so remarkable:

Stay focused on what makes you great.

Keep your story relatable.

Be memorable.  

 

STAY FOCUSED ON WHAT MAKES YOU GREAT

As our world continues to evolve, staying focused has become one of the toughest things to do. Maintaining focus means you must persevere through all the noise, but to truly be great, it requires more than just your full attention.  You must also have an unwavering belief in what you are doing. Not only did Tiger Woods have to persevere through the personal distractions, but also through physical limitations that had everyone suggesting he was finished. It was his own belief in himself that drove him to excellence once again. Just as Tiger stayed focused on his core purpose, which was to deliver a great golf performance despite all the interference, it is important for you to stay focused on your core brand purpose. Make sure all of your brand touch points are built from your purpose. Brands should constantly evaluate their brand world and all of their messaging to make sure the purpose is laser-focused and has a high-level brand ideal that compels your audience to care. For Tiger, that’s his heroic archetype. He’s the man that paves the way for others. The man that challenges and overcomes despite all odds.

Now that’s a message that anyone can get behind.  


BRAND EXAMPLE:

Staying Focused

Birkenstock comes to mind when we start to think of brands that have stayed focused to ultimately win. As a 244 year old German brand, Birkenstock has remained consistent with their purpose and brand DNA over and over again to see skyrocketing success in the 1960’s, 90’s, and now again today. Their message of quality, craftsmanship, and heritage is resonating with consumers again. The brand has seen a surge in revenue, which has grown tenfold in the last five years. Birkenstock has embraced who they are regardless if you think their product is ugly. They are winning. 

KEEP YOUR STORY RELATABLE

Brands must be relatable to core human needs in order to give their audience a reason to feel an emotional connection. It’s ok – even ideal – for a brand to be vulnerable, to be transparent, and imperfect. When a brand comes back to its core purpose from whatever setbacks it may experience, it shields itself from long term negative effects. Tiger’s story is by no means clean, but when the narrative shifts to his game and his perseverance, he taps into his brand’s purpose and maintains relevancy.  

BRAND EXAMPLE:

Being Relatable

No one is relating to their consumers better than Polaroid Originals is relating to them today. Launching into immense popularity in 1977, Polaroid saw great success by introducing the public to the magic process of instant photos but the rise of digital photography caused them to dwindle significantly. Their confidence in their product allowed them to stay relevant by creating campaigns that encouraged consumers to “slow down, be present, and make the most of every moment.” It was this relatable technique and the tangible product that actually captures real moments that encouraged Millennials to go out and get their own Polaroid cameras, and in turn, breathe new life into a retro brand whose relatability never went out of style.  


BE MEMORABLE:

Red shirt, black pants. That’s the uniform of a winner, according to Tiger Woods, and whether you are an avid golf fan or not, that uniform is unmistakably symbolic of excellence. Commit to consistency. Commit to leadership. Commit to being unique, and most of all, commit to being remarkably you to be memorable. It’s when brands revert to a “copycat” strategy to save time or money that they lose their way and eventually lose relevancy and the ability to stay top-of-mind with their audience. Brands must live and act their truth at all costs – that’s their superpower. For Tiger his superpower will always be his ability to play the game his way. Not the way Jack or Arnie played – the way Tiger plays. It’s in his play, his focus, his relatability, and his memorability that generates fan loyalty. It’s what makes him remarkable, and once again, a force to be reckoned with.  


BRAND EXAMPLE:

Being Memorable

Levi’s is as much an American Icon as apple pie and baseball, but how do they manage to stay remarkable and top-of-mind with consumers more than 150 years after they launched? The brand saw a downturn in the 2000’s but they’ve seen a resurgence and had their best year in a decade in 2018, hitting almost $5 billion in sales. Loyal fans are returning because of their inclusive, innovative, and memorable campaigns that remind consumers what they love about the brand - their strong roots in authenticity and firm values - two things in particular that today’s consumer is looking for when they associate themselves with a brand.   

Congrats to Tiger and his historic comeback. Here’s to knowing your game and knowing your purpose. A true brand champion, Tiger stuck to his roots and the payoff is gloriously green. 


Sources: AdAge, Mintel, Nielsen

ABOUT US 

Soulsight is a Chicago-based iconic brand design agency. Our mission is to propel brands to unlimited success through strategic design that drives consistent relevancy. We are known for delivering inspiring, category-leading creative and insights-driven strategic guidance for the some of the world's best-loved iconic, global brands. We're a team of 60 multi-disciplined, strategic creatives who believe in the power of consumer-centric, design-driven branding. We build Soulful brands through strategic design. We are Soulsight. 

 

04.15.19

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Spring Cleaning Your Brand:

Three Questions to Sprout Brand Growth

Now that spring - the season of renewal - is here, it may be an opportune time to take a fresh look at the current state of your brand. Just as we streamline our closets, cabinets and offices to stay current, the same approach can be effective when it comes to maximizing your brand’s relevancy. Is there an opportunity to dust off its assets and equities to ensure your brand is positioned for long-term growth?

If the answer to that question is yes, consider the KonMari Method. The popular organizing principle developed by Marie Kondo and articulated in her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, champions minimalism inspired by surrounding yourself with only what sparks joy.

To help apply the KonMari Method in the context of spring cleaning your brand, consider the following questions to evaluate whether it’s effective at sparking joy in a relevant and meaningful way:

 

Consideration #1:

Who is your core consumer? 

Re-examine who the primary end user of your offering truly is. Are you missing an opportunity to reach a larger audience, or do you need to be more focused on who you’re in the business of serving? Consider the human need your product or service is fulfilling to ensure you are solving for a consumer tension that resonates and aligns with your target. If you’re unsure, consider conducting research with your target audience to get a pulse on their lifestyle and life stage. Have you considered asking what brings them joy? The answer may help you strengthen your brand’s relationship with its core consumers by appealing to modern mindsets.

 

Consideration #2:

Is your brand in order? 

In today’s fast-paced society, consumer needs are constantly evolving and brands have to be ready to adapt. The more organized and prepared your brand is for those shifts, the more likely it will be to maintain an enduring emotional connection and consumer advocacy. Have you considered implementing a brand architecture that defines ways your brand can stay organized, stretch or complement your current offering or service? Defining your brand’s organizing principles and using them as a guiding light for how to strategically activate your brand across consumer touch points can make your brand-building efforts that much more powerful.

 

Consideration #3:

Is it time for your brand to grow? 

What is your brand’s strategy for growth? Thinking in terms of short- and long-term goals can make this task feel more achievable. Ask cross-functional team members for input on pipeline innovation opportunities that make sense with respect to your brand’s core. Be open to ideas that may stretch your brand in new ways, and that ultimately bring joy to consumers in ways you may not have thought of before.

If you already have a growth plan, is it supported by a core brand purpose? Revisiting your purpose and reassessing its longevity will also help you ensure your brand’s growth is purposeful, ownable and strategic.

Embarking on Brand Spring Cleaning can help keep your brand fresh, growing and rooted in its core purpose: to fill a human need that ultimately sprouts joy in humans’ lives. Happy spring!

ABOUT US 

Soulsight is a Chicago-based iconic brand design agency. Our mission is to propel brands to unlimited success through strategic design that drives consistent relevancy. We are known for delivering inspiring, category-leading creative and insights-driven strategic guidance for the some of the world's best-loved iconic, global brands. We're a team of 60 multi-disciplined, strategic creatives who believe in the power of consumer-centric, design-driven branding. We build Soulful brands through strategic design. We are Soulsight.